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Over 100,000 flood victims in Sri Lanka Colombo Highest rainfall in 18 yrs, rains to continue

Friday, 12 November 2010 - 9:06 AM SL Time
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Heavy rains lashed Colombo from 8.00 p.m. on Wednesday till yesterday morning hampering all day-to-day activities and affecting over 100,000 people in Colombo city.

Vehicular traffic came to a standstill due to a number of roads leading to the city being flooded. Electricity supply was disrupted in some parts as CEB substations were submerged. Schools were closed due to the low student turn out while office workers were stranded all round in the city.

The Education Ministry postponed school term tests scheduled to commence yesterday.

Meteorology Department announced that 440.2 mm of rain had fallen during the 24 hours ended at 8.30 am yesterday.

Meteorologist Chaminda de Silva said it was the highest rainfall recorded in Colombo city after 18 years. The highest on record had been 493.7 mm on June 4, 1992.

`The activation of inter-monsoon season caused a sudden change in the weather pattern,` he said adding the inter monsoon season would continue until December.

Silva said that during this period, showers and thundershowers would occur during the evening.

Strong winds would be experienced in the Southern and South West seas and the speed of the winds could increase up to 50 kmph, he said.

Assistant Director of the Disaster Management Centre Pradeep Kodippili said over 100,000 people in the city had been affected but no casualties reported.

The most affected areas were Inguru Kade Junction, Dematagoda, Borella, Kinsey Road, Wijerama Junction, Horton Place, Rajakeeya Mawatha, Sangaraja Mawatha, Dam Street, Angoda, Pettah, Fort, Maharagama, Kotte, Maradana, Thalawathugoda, Madiwela, Armour Street, Kotahena, Devi Balika junction, Welikalamulla and Kelaniya he said.

Kodippili said the parliament road and the Japan Sri Lanka Friendship road were also under water.

He said that Rajagiriya had been flooded due to the overflowing of the canal near the Ayurvedic Hospital. The Devi Balika Vidyalaya roundabout was about four feet under water and many areas in Punchi Borella near the Medical Faculty and in Kotahena, Granspass and Bloemendhal Road were impassable.

He said that the Torrington, Jawatta and Wijerama areas had been flooded and transport was at a standstill.

Culverts and drains had been blocked by garbage. Some unauthorised structures had been built over the drains in Colombo and that, too, had caused floods, Kodippili said.

`We have set up 11 centres for those displaced by floods. There are three welfare centres in Colombo, 7 in Kotte and one in Ratmalana,` he said.

Co Chairman of Colombo District Development Committee, Minister Susil Premajayantha said 19,000 families in the Colombo Divisional Secretary area, 10, 000 families in the Kolonnawa DS area, 5,000 families in the Ratmalana DS area, 4,350 families in the Timbirigasyaya DS area, 3,000 families in the Moratuwa DS area, 2,500 families in the Kesbewa DS area had been affected by floods.

He said he had briefed the District Secretary Joseph Sylvester on measures to assist affected people.

Navy spokesman Capt. Athula Senerath told The Island that nine naval teams, including 60 sailors, had been deployed to assist the flood affected people.

`Those teams have been deployed with 10 boats to service the Parliament Road, Pelawatte, Piliyandala, Boralesgamuwa, Mirihana, Nugegoda, Rajagiriya and Grandpass.

The ground floor of the Parliamentary complex was also under water and Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa visited the area in a navy boat yesterday morning.

Secretary to the Education Ministry Sunil S. Sirisena said principals had been given the discretion to close schools if necessary.

Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board Vidya Amarapala said several electricity substations including Kelanitissa, Ethul Kotte, Thurstan Road and Lucky Plaza were submerged and they had been closed temporarily to avoid possible hazards.

`This led to the disruption of electricity supply in several areas of Colombo and the suburbs,` Amarapala said.

Kalutara District Disaster Management Coordinating Officer Major G. A. D. I. S. Samaranayake said some areas in Beruwala, Panadura and Matugama were under water.

One death due to floods was reported from Warakapola.

There had been some mudslides in the Matugama Divisional Secretary area, he said.

Ratnapura District Disaster Management officer Lt. Col. S. M. P. B. Abeyratne said 70 mm rainfall had been reported in the area during the last 24 hours, but no floods had occurred.

Police spokesman SP Prishantha Jayakody said the traffic congestion due to heavy rains was prevalent until late evening yesterday.

Sri Lanka Air Force Bell 212 helicopters conducted reconnaissance flights over rain affected areas of the Colombo - Kandy road, Panadura and Kalutara areas to assess the situation.

Air Force Spokesman Janaka Nanayakkara said the helicopters would help the government with relief operations as well.

Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Ameneties Wimal Weerawnsa said his ministry had started delivering dry rations to flood victims.

Chief Medical Officer of the Colombo Municipal Council Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam warned of diseases spreading because of floods.

He requested the public to keep away from flooded areas. Since there was a large rat population in the city, people could contract leptospirosis or rat fever, he said.

`During floods, the mainline water system could be contaminated with unclean water and people are advised to drink boiled water,` he said.

He also asked people not to eat raw vegetables and advised them to consult doctors without delay if there were symptoms of diarrhoea.

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